Vero Beach City Council formally hires two top administrators

VERO BEACH — Two top vacant city administration positions have officially been occupied.

The Vero Beach City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract for interim City Manager Monte Falls to fill the position permanently while also unanimously approving the terms of a contract for a new city attorney whose employment contract will be drawn up and executed by Mayor Val Zudans at a later date.

Falls, who has served as interim manager since Jim O’Connor retired in March, will receive an annual base salary of $153,271 — which he has been receiving while temporarily filling the top spot — and a $400 automobile allowance a month. The city agreed to provide Falls with the same retirement plan given to all other general employees and will contribute four percent of Falls’ base salary into a deferred compensation program and conduct a performance evaluation at least once a year, according to Falls’ new employment contract.

Falls previously served as the public works director and held the interim city manager title for nine months in 2010 and 2011 while city officials searched for and eventually hired O’Connor. Falls went to work for the city 28 years ago, in January 1991, and is committed to staying for at least five more years, he has said. Falls’ contract stipulates he must serve as city manager until at least March 19, 2024.

“I’m honored to have been asked and selected to do this,” falls said Tuesday. “I’ve worked for the city for almost 29 years and lived in the community for almost 40 years and as I plan to finish up my career, I can’t think of a better way to do it with the city than being in the city manager spot.”

The council also unanimously agreed to hire John Turner of Fort Myers Beach as city attorney. Turner is a partner at the Peterson Law Group who has served as Fort Myers Beach town attorney and senior assistant attorney for Lee County.

Turner will start on July 1 and receive a base salary of $130,000 with a performance evaluation in six months with no guarantee of a raise after the assessment. He’ll receive up to $10,000 to relocate from the state’s west coast, according to the terms of Turner’s draft contract.

Turner will receive from the city 10 percent of his base salary toward a retirement plan — three percent more than what the city generally contributes to employee plans. Turner will also be permitted to work remotely for one week a year, reachable by phone and email, according to the terms rubber-stamped by the council.

Turner replaces Wayne Coment, who retired in January.

“I want to thank you very much for your confidence and support and being selected as your city attorney,” Turner told the council on Tuesday. “I look forward to working with each of you. I look forward to working with all the staff members and of course the citizens.”

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